Towering mountains have captivated human interest and inspired awe for thousands of years. Many civilizations have revered the grandest mountains as sacred places and associated them with mythological creation stories and powerful deities. The sheer size of such peaks can make us feel tiny, and the millions of years it took them to form make our lives look like brief blips.
The world’s tallest mountains are spread across the globe, but nine of the top 10 are in Asia, primarily in the ranges of western China, Pakistan, and Central Asia. These mountains were slowly formed by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which began 55 million years ago. This process continues to this day: The Himalayas are still growing by a little more than a centimeter every year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Andes, the mountain range that stretches throughout South America, is home to Aconcagua, the highest mountain on the planet outside of Asia. But tectonic forces are at work all over the globe, and some of the world’s tallest mountains are found on every continent. China is the country with the most mountains on this list, followed by the United States. (These are the tallest mountains in America.)
For some, these towering peaks are a challenge, meant to be conquered. Climber George Mallory, who perished in his attempt to be the first to climb Mount Everest, was pressed on why he wanted to climb the mountain and simply replied “Because it’s there.” Summiting any of the world’s highest peaks is a tremendous feat and requires an enormous amount of training and equipment.
Luckily, many of the world’s tallest mountains are also great for more casual visitors. They are in accessible and protected natural areas and are teeming with hiking trails, wildlife, and beautiful scenery. Mountains like Denali in Alaska and Mount Rainier in Washington are central attractions in some of the most visited national parks in the U.S.
To determine the tallest mountains in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from WorldData.info on mountain height and location. Mountains are ranked by the height above mean sea level of their highest peak. The source material gives heights in meters; we’ve converted them to feet as well. Location data on countries and mountain ranges also comes from WorldData.
Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor
Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.